FIFA World Cup

World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 14 with Xherdan Shaqiri, Lionel Messi and Musa

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2014

World Cup 2014: Best XI of Day 14 with Xherdan Shaqiri, Lionel Messi and Musa

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Day 14 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is over and done with, with another eight sides having completed their group phase fixtures.

    Group E saw France finish as table toppers ahead of Switzerland, who took second after claiming victory over Honduras in the final game. Xherdan Shaqiri was the star of the show with a hat-trick. Ecuador drew with France, but it wasn't enough to progress.

    Earlier, Argentina beat Nigeria to finish top of Group F with three wins from three, while the African side qualified in second, one point ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina who beat Iran in the final game.

    Here is our XI of the day, featuring three-goal hero Shaqiri alongside the other top performers.

GK: Alexander Dominguez, ECU

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    Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

    Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez was in excellent form once more, showing agility and consistency to keep out France and keep his first clean sheet of the tournament.

    Many of the shots he had to repel were straight at him or just to the side, but he made one good stop from a Paul Pogba header and a diving stretch to save from Loic Remy too.

    Spectacular or not, he did his job perfectly and ensured his team had every reason to think they could snatch the win they wanted.

DC: Fabian Schar, SUI

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    Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press

    Fabian Schar came into the Switzerland defence after the Philippe Senderos-inspired shambles against France and performed admirably to help keep a clean sheet.

    The 22-year-old centre-back started the tournament as fourth-choice in all probability, but his display against Honduras could well keep him in the team's plans as they advance into the knock-out stages. A good reader of the game, he made telling interceptions, showed strength to hold off attackers and made good use of the ball when he had time.

DC: Federico Fernandez, ARG

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Argentina's defence wasn't exactly watertight, but Federico Fernandez made a number of important stops to at least help his team restrict Nigeria to two goals.

    He won several big tackles and made plenty of clearances when they came under pressure in the second half, and several times had to come across to cover for a wandering Ezequiel Garay, who had been lured out of position.

    They'll have to tighten up at the back as they go on, but Fernandez can at least be satisfied he didn't put too many feet wrong on the day.

DC: Frickson Erazo, ECU

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    France weren't going all-guns-blazing to score goals as they have done in other matches at the finals, but they still had quality and pace up front to make life difficult for Ecuador.

    Frickson Erazo was the big man at the back who made a number of telling blocks, tackles and headed clearances for his side, showing good aggression when it was needed and remaining committed to his team's cause.

RM: Paul Pogba, FRA

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    David Vincent/Associated Press

    Paul Pogba didn't play wide right for France, of course. He was the right-sided central midfielder in their three-man midfield, but we'll squeeze him in for a worthy mention after his performance against Ecuador.

    He was one of a handful of French players who really looked to break the midfield lines of their opponents, surging forward into the channels and looking to get shots away.

    He could have scored twice, but was just off target or denied by the keeper. Still, it was a strong and mature all-round performance.

CM: Javier Mascherano, ARG

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    Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    Javier Mascherano was at his snappy, snarling best for Argentina against Nigeria, winning the ball back with frequency and gusto in a back-and-forth game.

    He was quick to close down and press up the field when necessary, while his usual acceleration and determination saw him sprint back to make recoveries when needed too.

    Mascherano captained the side late on after Messi's withdrawal. 

CM: Muhamed Besic, BIH

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Bosnia's central midfielder Muhamed Besic has put in three stellar displays at the finals, significantly enhancing his own reputation.

    Against Iran he was the tempo-setter from deep, dictating play with direct balls to the attack and picking up possession in deep areas of the field.

    Just 21 years of age and with less than a dozen caps to his name coming into the tournament, he's made a lasting impression and will be one to watch for the coming seasons.

LM: Ahmed Musa, NGA

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Ahmed Musa produced a livewire display for Nigeria from the flank, with his willing runs inside the channel and ability to out-pace an opponent playing a big factor in his side's attacking plan.

    Most important, of course, were the two goals he scored against Argentina, showing good composure and pace to score fine efforts and draw his side level twice.

    Nigeria will need more of the same if they are to progress further than the last 16.

AM: Xherdan Shaqiri, SUI

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Xherdan Shaqiri put in one of those performances that make fans, and probably scouts, sit up and take notice again after two frustrating displays earlier in the tournament.

    The attacking midfielder played in the No. 10 role and created chances for his fellow attackers, as well as taking three chances superbly himself, only the second hat-trick of the 2014 World Cup.

    A brilliant curling effort into the top corner, a driving run and placed finish and a composed, low effort completed his treble and sent Switzerland into the last 16.

FW: Lionel Messi, ARG

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Lionel Messi moved level with rival Neymar for the Golden Boot award, scoring twice more to take his tally to four in three games at the finals.

    Once more he was Argentina's best attacker, looking far more lively and creative in the first half than he had in his other two games to date.

    Again he has proven decisive for Argentina, who subbed him around the hour mark to give Messi a well-earned rest ahead of the last 16.

FW: Josip Drmic, SUI

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Shaqiri might have hit the hat-trick, but the Swiss midfielder knew he owed a tremendous debt of gratitude on the night to his centre-forward teammate Josip Drmic.

    The forward started the tournament in the side, was left out for the second game and came back in for the all-important win over Honduras.

    He set up two of Shaqiri's goals with immense selflessness and awareness, generally putting in a very effective performance in the final third and being unlucky not to score himself with three efforts on target.

     

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